An English Rural Landscape in the Chiltern Hills with lane between tall hedgerows
A University of Plymouth researcher has provided evidence featured in a major new report highlighting the regional variations in dementia diagnosis across England.
Mr Ian Sherriff BEM, Academic Partnership Lead for Dementia at the University of Plymouth, was among the experts recently invited to address the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Dementia.
Its resulting report, Raising the Barriers, calls for an end to the differences in dementia diagnosis rates facing people depending on where they live in the country.
Mr Sherriff, Chair of the Prime Minister’s Rural Dementia Friendly Task and Finish group and an Ambassador of the Alzheimer’s Society, is one of the UK’s leading figures in dementia care and research.
He gave evidence to the APPG inquiry in March 2023, in particular highlighting the dementia-related challenges facing rural communities.
He told the inquiry that his conversations with GPs in rural regions indicated that the link between GPs and the community teams responsible for dementia diagnosis (memory clinics and community mental health teams) can be poor, with referrals often declined unexpectedly or lost in the system.
He also highlighted the ongoing work of the D-PACT: Dementia PersonAlised Care Team programme, a five-year collaboration between the University of Plymouth and the University of Manchester, funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR).
It aims to develop and evaluate a system for dementia support based in general practice for people living with dementia and their carers.
Mr Sherriff attended the launch of the Raising the Barriers report in the Houses of Parliament in October 2023, along with students from the University.

The divide between urban and rural health and care access in England is currently significant and needs to be addressed. Rural populations are generally older and the farming community in particular experiences high levels of reluctance to seek a dementia diagnosis. Our research and other activities is making a difference here in the South West to this, supporting and empowering those living with dementia. But, if we are to deliver real and lasting change, that needs to be driven at a national level, and this report will hopefully go some way to achieving that.

Ian Sherriff BEMIan Sherriff BEM
Academic Partnership Lead for Dementia

The APPG is a cross-party group made up of MPs and Peers with an interest in dementia, and is run in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Society. Its aim is to influence legislation and policymaking in order to improve the lives of people with dementia and their carers.
In its Raising the Barriers report, the APPG highlights that while 91% of people affected by dementia see clear benefits of getting a diagnosis, the delivery of such diagnoses across England has yet to catch up.
The current national diagnosis rate is just 63.8%, meaning there are more than 250,000 people currently living with dementia in England but without an accurate diagnosis and support. Within this, there is a difference of over 20 percentage points in the dementia diagnosis rates between the highest and lowest performing Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) in England.
This has led to calls from the report’s authors for both regional and national reviews of diagnosis practices, and for the support provided to those receiving and making diagnoses to be standardised right across the country.

Championing improved dementia diagnosis in Parliament

BSc (Hons) Paramedic Practitioner students Leah Vincent and Chloe French joined Mr Ian Sherriff BEM at the launch of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Dementia's Raising the Barriers report. The opportunity came about after Mr Sherriff delivered a lecture on dementia care, highlighting the small and valuable differences they could make in their role on the front line.
Read more about the students' experiences: Students visit Parliament to champion improved dementia diagnosis  
Debbie Abrahams MP, co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Dementia, with students Leah Vincent and Chloe French and Ian Sherriff at the launch of the Raising the Barriers report
Debbie Abrahams MP, co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Dementia, with students Leah Vincent and Chloe French and Ian Sherriff at the launch of the Raising the Barriers report

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